Bus Company Putco has dismissed 105 workers for embarking on an illegal strike since last week, demanding a 6% wage increase and their back pay.
Bus company spokesperson Lindokuhle Xulu confirmed to Newzroom Afrika on Thursday evening that the workers had been dismissed for a number of reasons, including stopping their colleagues from performing their duties.
“Let’s start on Tuesday after we failed to convince workers to go back to work. When it started on 1 September, we issued about three notices to say that this is an illegal undertaking and they must go back to work. They did not do that, so we went to court on Friday and got an interdict, they didn’t listen to that, and ultimatum as well. So we were supposed to proceed with this process but they requested to sit down with the company, essentially coming to demand what they were demanding,” Xulu told the news channel.
“Unfortunately we said as a company that this matter is before the Labour Court and until such time it pronounces on that matter we cannot do anything.
“Fast forward to Tuesday, we issued an intent to dismiss the workers, about a 1,000 of them. We said before end of business on Tuesday we would expect written representations to be deposited to the company, of what must be considered when we look at those that need to be parting ways with the company. The representations that were made were about 900, with 500 of these coming from the unions themselves representing some of their members.
“All of these were considered, but also, in terms of company processes, you do understand that there were people who were already on final written warnings and those who have been identified as the instigators and those blocking people from going to work. The company took into consideration all of that evidence we had. We reached 105 workers that need to part ways with the company.:
According to Xulu, the number could change depending on those who are still not willing to go back to work.
The workers claimed the bus company had not paid them bonuses since 2020.
“They want an escalation that was supposed to take place in 2020, they want bonuses from 2020, but that’s been subject to processes. The process was that we applied for an exemption, the unions appealed that particular exemption and now it is before the labour court,” Xulu said.
Putco using ‘divide and conquer’ tactic
Speaking to The Citizen on Thursday, Putco employee Phumlani Ndlovu confirmed that workers had received messages of dismissal. But he was adamant that this is a “divide and conquer” tactic.
“They sent us messages announcing their dismissal but they are lying, they are trying to make us squirm and panic. We have a 1 o’clock meeting with the union tomorrow [Friday],” he said.
According to Ndlovu, the SMS reads: “Contract Termination: Your contract with Putco is terminated as of 09/09/2022 for participating in an illegal strike/gross misconduct. You can refer a dispute to the relevant authorities.”
Meanwhile, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has called for the department of transport to intervene in the Putco strike after the bus company threatened to dismiss 1,000 employees.
“We condemn the management of Putco for abusing the courts in this manner with a frivolous application. They should be engaging unions with the view of resolving this impasse, not launching applications in court,” said Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim.
ALSO READ: Numsa calls for Mbalula to intervene after Putco threatens to fire striking bus drivers